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Va. justices hear arguments on tunnel tolls

Wednesday - 9/11/2013, 2:20pm  ET

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Virginia Supreme Court heard an hour of arguments on a judge's ruling that charging tolls on two existing tunnels to help pay for a new one connecting Portsmouth and Norfolk is unconstitutional.

An attorney for a group of businesses and residents who challenged the tolls argued Wednesday that Portsmouth Circuit Court Judge James A. Cales Jr. got it right when he ruled that the Virginia Department of Transportation and Elizabeth River Crossings don't' have authority to impose taxes. The lawsuit claims the tolls are taxes because the existing Downtown and Midtown tunnels' construction costs have been paid.

Lawyers for the state and Elizabeth River Crossings argued tolls have long been recognized as user fees that don't require General Assembly approval.

A ruling is expected by Nov. 1.

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